2011 New Mexico Preview
New Mexico RB Kasey Carrier
New Mexico RB Kasey Carrier
Posted Jun 9, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - New Mexico Lobos

New Mexico Lobos

Preview 2011

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Mike Locksley
3rd year: 2-22
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 15, Def. 21, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best New Mexico Players
1. LB Carmen Messina, Sr.
2. TE Lucas Reed, Jr.
3. S Bubba Forrest, Sr.
4. PK James Aho, Sr.
5. C Dillon Farrell, Soph.
6. WR Ty Kirk, Jr.
7. DE Jaymar Latchison, Sr.
8. LB Joe Stoner, Jr.
9. DT Calvin Smith, Soph.
10. DT Reggie Ellis, Jr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 Colorado State
Sep. 10 at Arkansas
Sep. 17 Texas Tech
Sep. 24 Sam Houston State
Oct. 1 New Mexico State
Oct. 15 at Nevada
Oct. 22 at TCU
Oct. 29 Air Force
Nov. 5 at San Diego State
Nov. 12 UNLV
Nov. 19 at Wyoming
Dec. 3 at Boise State

An argument could be made that no head coach in the history of college football has had a worse first two seasons and still got a shot at a third year.

The 2009 Lobos went 1-11, head coach Mike Locksley was a part of an incident with an assistant coach and was suspended for a game, and the team didn't do anything on the field. That team finished 103rd in the nation in total offense, 100th in total defense, and came up with its lone win by two points at home late in the year against Colorado State.

The team was more experienced and supposedly better coming into 2010, and just when the argument could be made that Locksley was going to build things up the way he wanted them, New Mexico got worse.

Much worse.

The 2010 Lobos were bad in every way a team could be bad.

- Dead last in the nation in total offense, averaging 266 yards per game.
- Dead last in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 44.33 points per game.
- Dead last in the nation in run defense, allowing 250 yards per game.
- Second-to-last in the nation in total defense, allowing 469 yards per game.
- Second-to-last in the nation in punt returns, averaging 2.3 yards per try.
- 115th in the nation in punting, averaging 31.85 yards per kick.
- 116th in the nation in scoring, averaging 15.83 points per game.

And it goes on and on and on.

This was a good mid-level program not all that long ago under Rocky Long, and now it's a complete and utter disaster, but there's hope.

Sometimes programs have to be completely and totally rebuilt before coming up with the big surprise. That happened at Illinois, where Ron Zook's teams were miserable before shocking the world with a run to the Rose Bowl. From that success came Locksley, and he has done his job in bringing in good, talented players to up the overall skill level of the team, and he has his guys in several key spots, but he has to show he can coach them all up.

The offensive backfield should be terrific with three good quarterback options – from the passing of B.R. Holbrook to the athleticism and mobility of Tarean Austin and Stump Godfrey – and with fast running backs who can all produce. Lucas Reed is a top-shelf tight end, and Ty Kirk leads a very athletic and very speed receiving corps. The line needs a ton of help, but center Dillon Farrell is a good one to work around.

The defense has BCS-level tackles who need to play of their talent to turn around the run defense, while Carmen Messina and Joe Stoner are among the Mountain West's best tackling linebackers. The secondary gets four starters back, James Aho is an All-America caliber placekicker, and punter Ben Skaer is better than the team's statistics.

Locksley has experience players, he has talented players, and he has the program in a place where it could come up with a shocking turnaround season and become an interesting Mountain West player … to a point. No, the Lobos won't win the conference title, and no, there won't be miracles, but there's no excuse for this program to not be better unless Locksley really is that bad.

What to watch for on offense: The line. Holbrook, Austin, and Godfrey are all talented quarterbacks who can lead the offense. Kasey Carrier and James Wright are two good, fast backs who can be more than fine with a little bit of room. Reed and Kirk are terrific receivers, and Ohio State transfer Lamaar Thomas leads a slew of ultra-athletic pass catching options. Can the line block anyone? Dillon Farrell could be the league's best center, but he needs help around him with just one other starter, tackle Darryl Johnson, returning.

What to watch for on defense: The 4-2-5. It's a strange time to make a change to the alignment considering the team's strength might be at linebacker where Carmen Messina, Joe Stoner, and Spencer Merritt all decent veterans who make lots and lots of tackles. Four starters return to the secondary and the one new starter in the five man alignment, JUCO transfer DeShon Marman, might be the most talented of the bunch. The defense should be more athletic now and it should be more active, but it'll still have problems against the power running teams. Something had to be changed, though, for the nation's second-worst defense.

The team will be far better if … The offense could score. The defense needs to learn how to come up with a stop, and there are many, many, many problems that need to be worked on, but the offense simply has to figure out how to get points on the board. It's one thing to be stuffed by Oregon, Texas Tech, or TCU, but it's another to have problems scoring against New Mexico State and UNLV. The offense has to find one thing it can do right, and that needs to be running the ball after failing to hit the 100-yard mark in half the games. The points have to follow.

The schedule: There's a date with Sam Houston State that should be a win, but even that could be a bit of a fight. There's a home game against New Mexico State, but that rivalry game is always a battle. That's it. Everything else will be tough for the still-rebuilding Lobos, and the key might be to beat Colorado State in the season opener to get something positive to build on before getting trounced at Arkansas and against Texas Tech. The middle of the season is brutal with three road games in four weeks going to Nevada, TCU, and San Diego State, while the home game is against Air Force. Consider that an 0-4 stretch before needing to beat UNLV at home and Wyoming on the road before closing out with a trip to Boise State after two weeks off.

Best offensive player: Junior TE Lucas Reed. He's not a great blocker and he might not be consistent, but he's one of the team's best deep threats and he's a terrific safety valve who can connect on the big play on a regular basis. He led the team with a 13.9-yard-per-catch average with 33 grabs for 459 yards and five scores, and he'll once again be the quarterbacks' favorite target.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Carmen Messina. The Mountain West's leading tackler over the last two years, Messina has had to clean up mess after mess that the defensive front left for the back seven. He has bulked up to get to 240 pounds on a 6-2 frame, and he should be able to handle the workload even better. In his first three years he has come up with 312 tackles with 18 double-digit stop games in the last 24.

Key player to a successful season: Junior OT Korian Chambers. The offensive line needs more big, strong, talented players to work around. There are a couple of good starters in Farrell and OT Darryl Johnson, and 340-pound Calvin McDowney is a hulking left guard, but having a stud at left tackle means everything to the improvement of the woeful line. Chambers is big, strong, and looks the part. Now he has to be an anchor.

The season will be a success if … the Lobos win four games and is competitive throughout the season. It might not seem like much to be shooting for, but considering the program has won two games in the last two seasons, four wins would be a plus. The Lobos have to beat Sam Houston State, New Mexico State, and UNLV at home, and it should be good enough to battle with Colorado State and Wyoming. The rest of the games, though, will be a struggle, and it'll take a big upset to beat a Nevada or a San Diego State.

Key game: Sept. 3 vs. Colorado State. One of the two wins in the Locksley era came against the Rams two years ago, and after two straight one-win campaigns, beating an improved CSU team to start out the season would take a lot of pressure off. The Lobos won't beat Arkansas or Texas Tech, so a loss would mean an 0-3 start before facing Sam Houston State. A win over the Rams would likely mean a 2-2 record before October with an honest chance for a third win against New Mexico State.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Points Per Game: Opponents 44.3 – New Mexico 15.8
- Third Quarter Scoring: Opponents 121 – New Mexico 34
- Fourth Down Conversion Percentage: Opponents 15-of-19 (79%) – New Mexico 8-of-12 (42%)

- 2011 New Mexico Preview | 2011 New Mexico Offense
- 2011 New Mexico Defense | 2011 New Mexico Depth Chart
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